Digging deep to help East End’s isolated’ Bangladeshi women

Vulnerable women from the East End’s Bangladeshi communities can come together and grow their own food – thanks to funding from London’s biggest independent charity funder.

Rukshana Begum with some of the bottle gourd produced in the garden at St Peter's
Rukshana Begum with some of the bottle gourd produced in the garden at St Peter’s
  • Published: 16 February 2024

St Peter’s Community Wellbeing Projects, in Bethnal Green, is hoping to expand its community gardening club after receiving a £35,760 grant from City Bridge Foundation.

Run by trained volunteers, the club is aimed primarily at older Bangladeshi women, offering them a space in which they can be themselves, according to the charity’s projects co-ordinator, Khondoker Kamal-uddin.

He said: A lot of the women who come to the club left Bangladesh 20 or 30 years ago and since they’ve been here, they’ve never had access to a garden because they live in flats.

The community here has changed a lot in recent years and for many of these women, their children have left home and even left London, leaving them feeling lonely and isolated.

When they come here they can relax, be themselves, laugh and sing songs together, something Bangladeshi women of their generation find hard to do around men due to cultural and religious reasons.”

Khondoker Kamal-uddin
Garden club participants and volunteers
Garden club participants and volunteers

Club members, including 66-year-old Nahar Begum, grow crops commonly used in Bangladeshi cuisine such as bottle gourd, coriander and green chillis.

She said: I really enjoy attending the St Peters Community and Wellbeing Projects Gardening Club. This is what makes and keeps me physically and mentally active and healthy. It is a place of socialisation and recreation, caring for and looking after plants and vegetables from seedling to its time of harvest.”

The charity also runs an outreach service visiting housebound older people and inviting them to attend sessions, or delivering plant pots and seeds so they can grow vegetables on their balcony at home.

Giles Shilson, City Bridge Foundation Chairman, said: For almost a decade, this charity has done a fantastic job of creating a safe space where older women from Bangladeshi communities can feel at home.

Coming to the sessions means they not only learn more about growing food and staying healthy, they also develop a feeling of freedom and independence which is hugely beneficial to their mental and physical wellbeing.”

More information about St Peter’s Community Wellbeing Projects is available on Facebook at